“I was nineteen and in my second year of college, though I was home for the summer. Since I had moved to another city for school, I had no regular doctor to go to for checkups.
Now, I believe the reason I had to go this time had to do with a constant feeling of weakness. There was a hunch it had to do with a deficiency of some sort in my blood, most likely low levels of iron. This is what my mom and I thought, but of course, the doctor would know better. My mother got a recommendation from a family friend, so we set up our appointment with her and waited till the day arrived.
When it finally came, we headed to the new doctor and when I was called in, we did the routine pre-checkup with the nurse until we got to the main purpose of the visit.
She was about forty years old with a serious demeanor.
Honestly, I should have taken the hint with her tone when she began questioning me on my personal life. At the time, I just assumed I didn’t know her very well. She asked me about my love life. I told her it had yet to start and that I was pure. To this, she nodded and gave words of praise. She asked me about my social life. I told her about being in a sorority, though I was still being responsible.
Right away the praise disappeared. She became patronizing, telling me how her children were about my age but never left the library, how my mother should be more on top of me. I was insulted, but this was still just a foreshadowing of what was to come.
She ordered me to take a blood test at the lab and said she would phone me with the results when they came in. At this point, it’s important to note the sample would also be used for a blood pregnancy test. I did as she ordered.
The day the results came in, is one I will never forget. I got a call. It was the doctor’s office, and my doctor was put on the line. She told me that the pregnancy test had come in positive.
‘Positive?! That can’t be. I’m celibate, just as I said!’
‘These results are never wrong.’
‘Isn’t there a chance?’
I hung up and the next thing I knew, I was in hysterics. I drove straight to the office and demanded to see her. With the state I was visibly in, they let me in.
I don’t remember anything said leading up to this point. The one thing that will forever stay engrained in my head was when they said, ‘It probably happened when you were blacked out at one of your sorority parties and don’t remember. Or you were assaulted when you were passed out. Either way, this is why you don’t drink and why you should have been studying.’
She dropped abortion and adoption brochures on my lap. I continued, through tears, trying to tell her it wasn’t possible, and there must be some sort of mistake.
Again, she disregarded my cries, obviously feeling no sympathy, truly convinced I had put myself in this situation. To convince me she was right and the tests don’t lie, she suggested I get one more blood test done. I did so right away.
The rest of the day and the next were pure torture. I texted any male I could remember even having a conversation with at a social gathering, asking them if anything had happened between us at any point to see if I had truly been an idiot as my doctor had convinced me that I was.
I was constantly filled with thoughts of ‘What would my parents think? Why had I been so stupid? Am I about to be a college dropout?’
And when everyone I had contacted denied anything ever happening, I wondered, ‘Was I seriously assaulted without my knowledge?’
I had never had relations. always thought when I did, I would feel differently the next day. In other words, I would know. But suddenly, I was second-guessing myself. I was second-guessing everything I knew. My life, my future, my parents, my body, my own mind.
My phone rang two days later. Seeing the office’s number, I quickly answered. The phone call was less than two minutes long. I never even spoke to the doctor. It was the nurse.
‘Your results for the second blood test came in. They were negative. It turns out, there was a mistake with the first test. We would like to apologize, as this never happens. We’re so sorry. You’ll be reimbursed for the first test.’
I want to say I demanded the doctor to be put on the line. I want to say when she was, I screamed at her, not even knowing where to begin or end explaining the insane roller coaster of anxiety and self-hatred I had undergone. How I had questioned everything I knew to be true. How she should have never received her license. How she was the failure, not me. Heck, I want to say I demanded to be reimbursed for all the tests and visits. But I never did.
I just said thank you and hung up.
I had been gaslighted and then been told I had been right all along. I felt as though I had lost my mind and then been given it back. I simply felt thankful. Thankful for never having gone through what I was forced to believe I had. Thankful I still had my planned future. Thankful I never had to use either pamphlet that was dropped in my lap.
The whole ordeal spanned over just a couple of days, less than a week. Today, the feelings of thankfulness are still there. In hindsight, I should not have had to go through those thoughts and feelings.
A doctor knows more about health than the patient. But this should never be confused with knowing the patient more than the patient. With just about any profession, it’s one thing to be a master of knowledge. It’s a completely different thing to be knowledgeable and be able to effectively communicate with those who know less.
I’m so grateful, but I also really wish I would have laid it on her.”